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Mud Squares for Mud Season

April 25, 2017 by Susan

Serving it up:

Mud season is a gray and rainy time here is the northeast. The snow has melted, the ground is thawing and the rain is coming down. Sometimes a sweet and gooey baked treat is the perfect pick-me-up on a gray and rainy day.  This baked treat fits the bill perfectly, a brownie-like cake base topped with nuts, marshmallows and chocolate icing. Due to its bumpy appearance it resembles a bumpy and muddy gravel road during mud season. But of course this tastes much better than mud!

Thanks to my sister for this recipe and while she has never been here in mud season but I am pretty sure she has seen her fair share of mud in the places she has lived.

Mud Squares

Gooey and delicious Mud Squares.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. butter or marg
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 1 c. chopped nuts, walnuts or pecans are a good choice.

Method:

  • Set the oven for 350°F.
  • Cream the above and spoon the batter into a 9×13 greased pan and bake for 30 -35 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the top of the cake evenly with 3-4 cups of mini marshmallows, enough to completely cover the cake.
  • Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes until the marshmallows are slightly puffy.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chopped nuts on top of the melted marshmallows.
  • Cool for 30 minutes.

Icing:

  • 3 c. powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. butter or marg, softened
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 3 T. milk – you may need to add more

Method:

  • Mix all the above together. If using an electric mixer or beater, be sure to start the machine at a low speed or you will have powdered sugar everywhere!
  • You may want to add some more milk so that your icing is rather thin and can be drizzled across the top of your marshmallow.
  • Cut into squares with a sharp knife dipped frequently in hot water. A cool knife will pull the marshmallow off the cake.

 

Dishing it out:
For me, mud season is greeted with mixed emotions.  I love winter. I’ve successfully skied Mad River Glen, do my fair share of shoveling and don’t mind driving in the snow. Although I hate to see the snow disappearing, there is excitement in knowing that the spring flowers will soon be appearing in our gardens. Meanwhile we all manage to get through mud season by knowing which gravel roads to avoid and which can be more easily traversed.

daffodils in the upper pond.

Spring daffodils grace the rock garden by one of our ponds.

It is the moisture in the soil from the melting, thawing and the rain that allows Vermont to be the ‘Green Mountain’ state. This past winter Sugarbush Resort, just  mile from us, recorded 363 inches of snow at the top of the mountain, just one inch short of the 1995-96 record snowfall. It was indeed a great 2016-17 winter.
Whether you visit West Hill House B&B in the winter, spring, summer or autumn, you will be guaranteed a warm welcome and a plate of home baked goodies will be waiting on the sideboard.

Don’t be Directionally Challenged

April 22, 2017 by Susan

Mud season is upon us here in rural Vermont. A time when the snow melts, the ground thaws and the rains come. Although the ski season has come to an end many B&B owners like ourselves remain open and welcome guests while we catch up on the B&B ‘honey-do’ list.

Mud season is a perfect time to get away from your day-to-day routines and enjoy relaxing at a B&B with your special someone. It is a quiet time in this part of the country, and although the skiers have left, the roads still lead to the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont —if you follow the driving directions.  Of course on our website we do provide you with a 98% mud-free route to our B&B.

Yankee Magazine had a lovely oh-so-true story this month entitled ‘Hard Drive’ which described perfectly the challenges of not only mud season but, mud season in combination with GPS.

Directions to keep you mud free.

Knowing which way can keep you mud free.

Vermont has 8,600 miles of unpaved roads (that’s twice the length of the continental US) and only 6,000 miles of paved roads. Those who live here appreciate the gravel roads and the beauty found along these roads less taken.

One of the challenges of mud season is that many of the gravel roads turn to a wonderful chocolaty brown layer of mud. While looking innocent enough, in some places the mud is ready to challenge you: will you make it through or will you be caught.

During mud season Vermont’s B&Bs want to help you journey smoothly so we all recommend the same thing, “We live here and know the roads well — please read through our recommended directions and don’t let your GPS or mapping website lead you astray!”

Forest gravel road

Gravel road through verdant forest – no mud here.

The subtitle of Yankee Magazine’s ‘Hard Drive’ story is “The GPS crowd learns that when it comes to country roads, some are less taken for a reason.”

Absolutely true! While GPS may give you the shortest route, that route might actually turn out to be a farm road or a gravel-road mountain pass deep in mud. In winter you may be led to a road actually closed in winter one which has been closed in winter since the beginning of time!

The key words are “we live here and know the roads well”. While the route we suggest may be a bit longer, the timing is usually within minutes of the same and in the long run may require lots less time than waiting for a tow truck to pull you out of the mud!

We want you to arrive happy and relaxed, not stressed out!

So what’s to do in Mud Season you ask? Plenty. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sign up for a Brews and Snooze tour
  • Visit the Valley Arts gallery or take part in one of their special classes
  • Shop at the ‘Almost World Famous Warren Store’ they have a great deli too!
  • See the vast array of Vermont artisan talent at the Artisan Gallery Shop
  • Get a jump on Christmas decorations at All Things Bright and Beautiful
  • Check out the paintings and photographs by local artist at the Parade Gallery in Warren
  • Enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants. While some are closed in mud season, there is still good dining to be had. Perhaps even dinner at the B&B.
  • Visit the waterfalls or one of the other self-driving tours we have created for you
  • The Three Mountain Café is a good stopping spot for a bite to eat and to check out local antiques
  • Visit The Store for all things kitchen related and they have classes as well

Watering can with flowersWhether you venture out and about or cozy up at the B&B; breath deeply, enjoy the mountain air and above all, r e l a x !

We are ready help you get started on your Vermont get-away. Check out out our Spring Showers bring May Flowers special or just give us a call at 802-496-7162 to make your relaxation reservation.

Sunny Day Road Trip: Discovering Vermont Artisans

April 16, 2017 by Susan

A beautiful, warm and sunny mid-April day just begs to be enjoyed so, having no overnight guest to attend to, we set out to enjoy the afternoon and view the works of area artisans.

Our afternoon outing started in Middlebury, about 45 minutes from the B&B, where we stopped at the Vermont Coffee Company for coffee and some lunch. The Vermont Coffee Company is a small company that began slow-roasting small batches of coffee in 1979. As they note, “All the coffees we buy are organic and fair trade. While on their own these aren’t ‘quality standards’ they are standards for a higher quality of living for the farmers who grow the coffee.” (Open weekdays only, until 2PM.)

Vermont coffee Company logo.

Coffee roasting artisans create”Coffee made for friends”.

Our guests love the dark roast that we use for our breakfast coffee. Buy Vermont Coffee Company coffee, save the brown paper wrappers and trade them in for some cool stuff – a travel mug? Perhaps, but saving up for a special Vermont Teddy Bear with a “Friends” t-shirt won’t take too much longer!

Next stop was Bristol nestled at the foot of the Green Mountains just over the Gap from Warren. The town dates back to 1762. While many of the buildings date from a later time period, the entire downtown is a National Historic District. The town green has been a central part of village life throughout the town’s history. The Bristol Band has presented outdoor summer band concerts in the gazebo on the town green every Wednesday from June through Labor Day since shortly after the Civil War.

Art on Main sign.

A bright and beautiful shop.

Two beautiful shops on the main street in Bristol that are not to be missed bring to light the incredible talent of Vermont artisans.

Art On Main is a charming community supported artist cooperative showcasing the talents of artisans from around the state. This small gallery exhibits and sells an abundance of delightful creations, the work of over 80 artists both well known and newly emerging talent.

A wide variety of media are represented including hand thrown pottery, exquisite jewelry, textiles in various styles, woodenware, fine art, glass, small furniture items and photography.

The creations are attractively displayed making each item a treat for the eye. Numerous community events are scheduled throughout the year at Art On Main: rotating exhibits, featured artist series, open studio weekend, artist demonstrations and an emerging artists exhibit.

Huge elm lumber dwarfs Vermont Tree Goods artisan and owner John.

Giant slices from the ancient elm dwarf John, Vermont Tree Goods artisan and owner. Photo: Jon Varricchio

Vermont Tree Goods is an absolute joy to visit. This local company mills lumber and creates the most incredibly beautiful furniture from recycled heirloom trees that have reached the end of their growing years. Through the transformation into furniture, these magnificent beings extend their legacy by living on in homes and businesses. Using trees that are too large to fit into the usual lumber mill saws, Vermont Tree Goods artisans take the large trees and using their vision create what the tree wants to be made into.

From bedsteads to bookcases and tables to trivets, each piece of wood has a story. Each piece is hand crafted, natural-edged, Vermont grown and Vermont made. The pieces have timeless design and so stunningly finished that the grain of the wood cries out to be caressed. Unfortunately, in 2016, the largest elm in the entire northeast succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease. Fortunately however, at the end of its life Vermont Tree Goods and the Nature Conservancy worked together to continue the legacy of that beautiful tree and may lovely pieces have been created from the wood of this historic tree.

All the tables, benches and home goods crafted from this magnificent red elm by the VTG artisans are branded with the unique VT Elm logo, a silhouette of the tree.

Vermont Tree Goods hand made table.

A magnificent table handcrafted by artisans at Vermont Tree Goods. Photo: Vermont Tree Goods

We are proud that our guests are able to be part of this legacy as we have four teapot trivets made from this stately elm.

Peter enjoying afternoon tea.

Enjoying a sunny afternoon tea and baked goods at the Bristol Café.

Before heading back to West Hill House B&B we stopped at a favorite, the Bristol Café, to sit outside in the warm sunshine and enjoy a mug of tea and some home baked goodies.

With explorations over for the day we headed back home and across the Gap to Warren.

If you are ready to escape from your usual routines for a while, your explorations can be just around the corner. We invite you to come stay with us at West Hill House B&B, adjacent to the Sugarbush Resort and Golf Club and just a few miles from the town of Bristol. Let us work with you to plan your road trip in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont.

Moon n. an astronomical body. But what’s a Babymoon?

March 5, 2017 by Susan

How many words can you think of that contain the word moon? 10? 25? 50? More? Well done! An internet search finds over 190 words containing the word moon. Here are but a few…

Moon in the clear sky

Moon in the clear sky

  • Moon: The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits planet Earth, being Earth’s only permanent natural satellite.
  • Man-in-the-moon: Although there is said to be a man in the moon whose face is always looking at us, Neil Armstrong was actually the the first man to set foot on the Moon.
  • Moonstone: n. A variety of feldspar valued as a gem for its pearly translucence.
  • Moonlight: n. The light reflected from the surface of the moon.
  • Moonshine: n.Illegally distilled liquor, especially whiskey. Also called regionally white lightning.
  • Blue Moon: a song written by Rodgers and Hart in 1934 which has become a classic and recorded by many.
  • Moonwalk: n. A dance step in which the dancer creates the illusion of walking forward while actually sliding back one foot at a time.
  • Honeymoon: n. The traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in intimacy and seclusion.

Did you include Babymoon in your list? Yes, babymoon. It’s not a tiny moon however it is a popular “moon” to be enjoyed by parents-to-be.

Babymoon: n. A relaxing and romantic vacation taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born.

Whereas a honeymoon is a celebration of your new life ahead, a babymoon is a celebration of the old life you’re about to leave behind, well hopefully not leaving behind but celebrating the life you are about to bring into to your world.

Flowers on a Babymoon

Babymoon romance

General wisdom says you and your significant other are entitled to a babymoon during each pregnancy. After all, you’re about to embark on seemingly months of straight up nighttime feedings (where you may even get a chance to see the moon!), dirty diapers, and crying so you might as well try to get in a little relaxation while you can.

Babymoon walk in the woods

Enjoying a babymoon forest walk.

No matter the season, a babymoon should not be the sightseeing adventure of a lifetime rather a chance for the two of you to relax and rekindle your relationship before your baby comes and life changes in ever so many ways. Some babymoon couples head to sea and sand, some to countryside gardens,  and some to the peace of the mountains.

So if it is the fresh air and peaceful mountains you are looking for, Vermont is the place to be. Outstanding bed and breakfasts invite relaxation, additionally many offer Babymoon Specials which may include such treats as a romantic dinner for two, couples’ massages with a special prenatal massage for mom, chocolates of course and a small keepsake for baby. Nearby pathways and mountain trails invite walking and our friendly locally owned shops offer everything from hand crafted children’s toys and snuggly quilts for the new little one to that something special to remember your trip by.  Especially noteworthy are the excellent restaurants with healthy, locally grown food which is a treat to body and soul.

Therefore, if you are parents-to-be, we invite you to book yourselves a babymoon and relax in beautiful surroundings of West Hill House B&B nestled in the beautiful, peaceful Green Mountains of Vermont.

Green Mountain Hikes

May 29, 2016 by Peter MacLaren

Hedgehog Brook Trailhead with Bruce

Bruce with guests at Hedgehog Brook Trailhead

2016 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service and this summer West Hill House B&B and Vermont based ‘Wonder Walks’ are taking to heart the challenge given by the US National Park Service to help you explore Vermont’s Green Mountains. Did you know that the US National Parks originated with the advocacy of Scotsman John Muir?

In our state we are fortunate to have the Green Mountain National Forest, and to honor this anniversary we encourage guests to discover and explore the magnificent mountains, forests, waterfalls and trails in our own backyard, including the famed Long Trail. Bruce Acciavatti* owner of ‘Wonder Walks’ and experienced guide will personally guide you on a customized Green Mountain discovery adventure.

We shall be happy to customize two, three or four day hiking packages for you.

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Skiing at its best

December 20, 2014 by Peter MacLaren

Have you been reading “Top 10” lists over the last few weeks? If so you will have you see lists of almost everything under the sun, Top 10 Ugliest Cars, Top 10 Best Places to Live, Top 10 Best Companies to Work For, Top 10 Best Universities, and who knows, maybe even a list for the Top 10 Best Top 10 Lists!

Well…  here’s our “Top 4” list – Four Great Reasons to come Ski in the Mad River Valley this Winter.

1.  Mad River Glen Mad River Glen – Ski It If You Can. Seriously, don’t miss out on skiing this legendary co-op owned ski area. Ranked by Ski Magazine as one of the most challenging on the east coast of the US, Mad River Glen provides an opportunity for skiers of all levels to ski a variety of trails on natural snow though narrow trails which follow the terrain. Riding the Single Chair, chairlift is an absolute must! Lessons, ski shop and General Stark Pub are hillside amenities. Down hill, telemark, and cross country skiers will love MRG but be warned snowboarders… you will  have to look elsewhere for your downhill excitement as no snowboards are allowed.

Mad River Glen's unique single chair.

Don’t miss this ride to the top of Mad River Glen.

2. Sugarbush Ski ResortAs one of the largest ski areas in the northeastern US, and with two mountains to choose from, Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, snowboarders and skiers alike will enjoy the range of it’s 111 trails from beginner slopes to the more challenging black diamond runs. Sugarbush is locally owned and offers lessons, a variety of places for foodies, ski shop and accommodations.

3. Blueberry Lake Cross-Country CenterIs a cross country skiers’ delight. Designed for the average skiers,  outdoor enthusiast can enjoy the classic or skating style of skiing or can snowshoe on the 11 trails which includes 30km of groomed trails. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available as are lessons. Pre-skiing age children can also enjoy the outdoors in the comfort of a pulk which can also be rented. And for dog lovers, your well behaved dog is welcome and please, remember to clean up after your pooch.

Skiing at Olé's.

Skiers at Olé’s.

4. Olé’s Cross-Country CenterOffering about 40km of groomed trails, lessons, rentals of both skis and snowshoes, a deli and friendly staff, Olé’s beckons to cross-country skiers of all ages to come and enjoy winter. With relatively flat terrain skiers can explore the trails while getting great mountain views and if quiet woodland trails are your choice you’ll find them here too. There are about 15km reserved for snowshoeing only and today’s modern snowshoes are a lot easier to walk in that the old, oversized ‘tennis rackets’ and you don’t need special boots, your regular winter boots fit these snowshoes nicely.

Ready. Set. Visit!

The Mad River Valley offers skiing of all sorts, comfortable B&Bs and slope-side accommodations, friendly folks, great food, beautiful shops, gorgeous mountains, stately trees, as well as wonderful snow, more mountains, more trees, more snow and lots of fresh, crisp mountain air.

Get your mittens and scarf ready and consider this your invitation to visit Vermont, winter in its natural state. Come experience skiing at its best. We’re ready and waiting for you…what are you waiting for?

Dreaming of a White Christmas?

December 15, 2014 by Susan

MV5BMjA0Mzg0OTU0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTM4MjY5._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_Dreaming of a White Christmas but live where there isn’t any snow? Stop dreaming and come live your dream. Come to Vermont!

The movie White Christmas is indeed a classic and a must see Christmas movie in our family and perhaps yours too. The holidays are not complete without a visit, via DVD, to the the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont.

Starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as successful broadway producers, and Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen as a sister, singing act, a twist of fate brings the foursome to The Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, in late December. Dreaming of a white Christmas and that “Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, all that snow” the four arrive and find, to their great disappointment, that there is no snow at all. The sisters find, with few registered guests, their singing contract is to be cancelled. Meanwhile, the two men discover that the innkeeper is their former commanding general.

Despite the lack of guests and the challenge of the weather, the four decide to stay and the story develops as a light-hearted romance suitable for family viewing. With songs sung by Crosby and Clooney and beautiful dancing by Vera-Ellen and Kaye, the movie is a good way to spend a winter evening.

WHH_Winter_Logo

While there is no Columbia Inn, there is West Hill House B&B in Warren, Vermont, a place to enjoy a white Christmas and winter in all its glory.

We can predict with some degree of certainty that we will have a white Christmas and we most certainly have a copy of the movie for you to watch!

Ski Catamount Trail - the Length of VermontSkiing at  Mad River Glen  and Sugarbush will be in full swing with people from around the world enjoying the opportunity to ski some of New England’s best slopes. On the Sugarbush golf course just behind our Handsome Red Barn, is a perfect hill for sledding on one of the Mad River Rocket Sleds created here in Warren. If your pace is slower, there are miles of cross-country skiing at Olé’s and  Blueberry Lake only 10 minutes from West Hill House B&B. If skiing isn’t for you, our snowshoes are perfect for exploring around our property or farther afield.

If you’re not an outdoors type or your skiing days are past, there are numerous artisan shops, small stores and coffee shops to visit but that will have to wait for another blog.

If  a white Christmas to you means looking at snow through a window,  how about curling up in a big chair by the fireplace and losing yourself in a good book, or playing a board game with your special someone.

If you are dreaming of a white Christmas look no further than Vermont in winter. Winter in its natural state!

Mad River Glen – Ski It If You Can!

January 11, 2014 by Corey A. Edwards

TJ-IMG00014 - MRG Single Chair

Perched on the backbone of the Green Mountains, Mad River Glen has been ranked by SKI magazine as the most challenging resort on the East coast, due in no small part to having a 2,000 foot (610 m) vertical drop – this despite the fact that it’s not that large of a resort!

Mad River Glen is a committed “skier’s mountain,” too – meaning it is one of the few ski resorts in the US to enforce a total ban on snowboarding. Now, while this is bad news for snowboarders, it’s great for those skiers out there who have, for what ever reason, formed a, shall we say, “definite opinion” about sharing the slope with snowboarders – or even those who have *no* opinion on snowboarders.

A lot of Mad River Glen’s approach is hand’s off: they don’t groom the slopes much, if at all, preferring to let things lay as they land, as it were. This means the trails can have a decided natural feel to them – and boy do they vary in difficulty!

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Stetson Hollow Trail and Falls

August 5, 2012 by Susan

Stetson Hollow waterfallToday on our Sap-bucket list we highlight the Stetson Hollow Trail and Falls. A perfect activity for a hot summer day in the Mad River Valley, the tree shaded Stetson Hollow trail follows along the Stetson Brook and is an easy 1.2 mile hike.  Take your camera – there is some gorgeous scenery on this 45 minutes hike to the falls.

At the head of the trail you will be treated with the sight of a 40 foot ‘horsetail’ falls. A seasonal falls, spring and fall are when the water is most abundant however during other times of year this is still a lovely trail. While the water is cooling, swimming is not permitted.

Heading south from the town of Warren, Stetson Hollow Road is on the right 2.2 miles from the Lincoln Gap/Rte 100 intersection. It looks like you are  driving into someone’s yard and actually you are (please respect their privacy) but keep going, you’re on the right track to the start of the trail and a bit  farther along is space for parking.

Have fun and keep cool.

Sap-bucket list

June 10, 2012 by Susan

What’s on your bucket list?

There are so many wonderful places to visit and things to do in Vermont that we have created none other than our own Vermont Sap-Bucket list!

In the 6 years we have been in Vermont we have taken the opportunity explore this wonderful Green Mountain state. We’re excited when our guests ask “What’s there to do in Vermont?” because we are more than happy to fill them in on what’s what.

As our guests at West Hill House B&B, we will help you to plan your itinerary and activities by providing you with ideas based on your interests and driving routes that will show off the beautiful scenery.

So we invite you watch this space for our Sap-bucket list.

Picnic by the pond

May 21, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

West Hill House Bed and Breakfast

Grace & Charlie enjoy a picnic.

A basket filled with Vermont cider, cheeses, crackers, home made cookies and other goodies brings smiles to Grace and Charlie who welcomed the warm spring weather with a picnic by our pond. Spring has indeed sprung in the Mad River Valley. Signs of the season are all around us; chipmunks are sunning themselves on the rocks, peepers are singing our guests to sleep each evening and our beautiful gardens are coming back to life with brilliant daffodils now in bloom. We won’t even mind a few April showers. Sugarbush has opened the golf course, folks are out walking and cycling as well as hiking on the many local Green Mountain trails.

Though we can’t guarantee that there will be warm picnic weather when you come, we can guarantee that a warm welcome awaits you.

See you soon!

A Greener Green Mountain Magazine

February 5, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

Our Vermont,  is the new Green Mountain State’s Greener Magazine, and features articles about people, places, events, food, and local flavor offered in the great state of Vermont. Not only is this a paperless magazine, and you can subscribe for free on line, but they chose a 100% wind powered company to do their hosting.

Lucky us, West Hill House B&B has a featured ad in the magazine’s inaugural edition. Check us out on page 2-3, the full-screen option, and accept our invitation to come to Vermont to sample the wonders of our amazing state. West Hill House is a ‘Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State’. We offer Ski & Stay Packages. If you and your sweetie need a little pampering check out our Valentine’s Day special. Perhaps a proposal is in your future …let us help you make that a memorable event.

West Hill House B&B is where you’ll want to B&B.

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